by Iain Roberts on 11 May, 2016
Our local Muslim community has issued this press release explaining why they have been concerned about the Trafford Centre terrorist attack exercise.
Preparing for terrorist attacks is vital so that police protocols can be refined and lessons learnt to improve cooperation between emergency services. The terror exercise organised on May 9th at the Trafford Centre by the GMP is welcomed by community groups and individuals, who as always are ready to help and support the police to defeat terrorism.
However we share the concerns expressed by many including on social media that the “fake suicide bomber” shouted the religious phrase “Allahu Akbar” meaning “God is the Greatest”. This in the eyes of many was unjustified and perpetuates the false stereotypes about the nature of terrorists and terrorism.
Terrorism has no faith or religion, a fact borne out that terrorists in the 21st century come from all backgrounds. In addition apart from being deeply offensive to millions of Muslims who recite this phrase daily in religious worship, using this phrase in such a context unnecessarily alarms the wider community who may become concerned when this is heard in completely innocent day to day interactions.
Such an ill informed decision unfortunately only stigmatises the Muslim community and contributes to the rising Islamophobia in the UK. It was unacceptable and in any event, unnecessary to achieve the learning experience from this exercise.
We do however welcome the swift action by the GMP in acknowledging that on reflection this action was unacceptable and the apology given. Moving forward, we recommend that the authorities when preparing for such Counter Terrorism exercises do not perpetuate terrorist stereotypes and stigmatise religious communities and closer cooperation with grass roots organisations will prevent further misunderstandings and better working relations.
Issued by Manchester Council of Mosques, Bolton Council of Mosques and Stockport Muslims